“I am working on starting a jewelry business. I am terrified!,” cried Jasmine King, a budding jewelry designer through a post in Rena Klingberg’s Jewelry Making Journal.
Starting a jewelry business can seem as scary as wearing a necklace made of spiders. But with passion, creativity, and unwavering devotion to your love of everything studded, you can be well on your way to making your creative craving a full-time income. And who knows, you might even start a trend. Spider necklaces, anyone?
Why Start a Jewelry Business?
There are low startup costs: Think about how much money it takes for a lawn-mowing business to get started. They can’t even think about starting to advertise their services until they are equipped with, well, equipment. The upfront cost of a lawnmower, truck, and weed-wacker can get well into the thousands. With an e-commerce jewelry business, on the other hand, you can start as small as you like — even with a simple 10—12 style to display on your Etsy storefront. Plus, you don’t need an in-person operation to keep things running, like you would with a cafe or restaurant.
Light enough to bring to farmer’s markets and fairs: Sell your jewelry at pop-up shops and local events to raise brand awareness. Your back will thank you for not having to lug around hundreds of pounds of materials, as the clothing vendor next to you might be.
It’s a great creative outlet: This is a little wink at the jewelry lovers out there who weren’t sure they could follow their dreams and do what they’d do for free. The value of the jewelry market is projected to rise over 20% by 2026.
Things to Consider
- There’s high competition: Not just against other jewelry-makers, but other purchases. “Our competition has never been others in the Jewelry trade. Our competition has always been … a new kitchen, a Disney vacation, college tuition,” replies one jeweler, cited in INSTOREMAG.COM. Another adds, “It’s my belief that the biggest competition for jewelers is not other jewelers, [but] rather stores that sell the latest and greatest in technology: New iPhones, Apple Watches, Computers… When was the last time you heard someone say they were going to give a piece of jewelry to celebrate a graduation, birthday, etc? It’s always, I want a new phone, new computer.”
- It’s time-consuming: What you might not be paying in high startup costs could come back with lots of ongoing time creating, arranging, or sourcing your jewelry. If you’re looking to expand quickly, consider training, then outsourcing the jewelry creation process (or the other business aspects) to allow for time to create quality pieces.
How to Start a Jewelry Business
Your passion for unique pieces, whether for Playbill necklaces and earrings like from Broadway Dork Designs or gracefully Mediterranean designs like Ragen Jewels, deserves a proper business strategy for curating collections that can bring in a full-time income.
1. Know Your “Why”
Before starting the money talk, know the “why” behind your business. Was jewelry always a staple to your outfit, even when your mom fashioned it on you when you were a toddler? Underneath the most discouraging struggles will live your “why,” encouraging you to keep going even when you’re questioning if you should.
2. Decide on a Business Model
Look at these three options to see what fits your fancy when figuring out how you want your jewelry to be sold.
For those who want to optimize a work-from-home jewelry-selling model, e-commerce is your way in. Selling on Etsy, through Shopify, and your social media channels can alleviate the cost and physical limitations of a storefront while allowing you to expand to worldwide markets.
For those who want the personal touch of servicing customers in-store, a brick-and-mortar model is (still!) a viable option for business owners. Utilize the power of curation, passionate service, and timeliness to open your jewelry storefront. Just be aware of the considerably larger upfront cost compared to e-commerce.
If you know how to create something but don’t want to deal with customers directly, why not wholesale? With your skill in creating distinctive pieces, you can sell products directly to boutiques and e-commerce shops, receiving returns in bulk and without being reliant directly on buyers.
3. Secure Your Business Funding
If you’re looking for investors, you’ll need a business plan before taking this step. But if you’re starting your business from scratch, your funding will come from your piggy bank.
As a self-funded business owner, it’s best to connect with a financial professional to help you plan your strategy. With limited funding, e-commerce businesses shine. It might only take a few hundred dollars to start a collection of jewelry on Etsy that can bring you more traffic than on a new website or social media account.
When looking to gain funding, you’ll need to research business structures and places to find funds. We’ll touch more on this below.
3. Decide Your Business Structure
Choosing the right business structure is like choosing the right partner. It can make or break your success. And — trust us — you don’t want to end up with one that will leave you with a broken heart and empty pockets. All jokes aside, the structure you choose for your business will affect your taxes, liability, and legal requirements, so it’s best to discuss your strategy with a financial professional or a trusted business formation company like your friends at doola!
In an unincorporated business structure, a sole proprietorship shows no legal distinction between a business owner and their business, making the owner liable for any obligations for their business.
Limited Liability Company
In a formal business structure, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business separate from its owner. It could have one owner (for a single-member LLC) or many owners (for multi-member LLCs).
Compared to LLCs, where single or multiple designated members are in ownership of the business, a corporation is owned by stockholders and managed by a board of directors, with board-appointed officers running day-to-day logistics.
4. Source Suppliers for Jewelry
With all the work you’re doing on your own, it’s time to find a partner. No, not a business partner, but a supplier so you can make more and more of your pieces for more and more buyers in love with your designs.
If you’re creating niche jewelry pieces based on book covers or movies, you’ll probably prioritize customizability while marketing long-lasting jewelry for the world traveler will require more quality materials. Here are a few common jewelry supplies for you to start your savvy search:
5. Develop a Business Plan
At this point, you’ve gone through a majority of the logistics that would fit inside your business plan. Developing a business plan helps you envision how your business will run and will give you (and others) faith that you’re not flying by the seat of your gemstone pants.
There isn’t one “right” way to write a business plan, but they often include:
- An executive summary — overarching and big-picture concepts that you’ll go more into detail about later in the plan
- Company overview — profiling who you are and what differentiates you from others
- Industry analysis — outlining market research and data that shows how you can rise above competitors
- Customer analysis — highlighting who your customer is, what they want, and how you can solve their needs
- Operations and marketing plan — outlining your marketing goals and how you’ll strategize backend operations to promote scalability
Take a look at Dave Lavinsky’s business plan template, a serial entrepreneur and founder of GrowThink, a consulting firm.
Develop and Grow Your Business’s Brand
Karen Rosengart, the founder of jewelry brands KRDiamonds, Ltd and K. Rosengart describes the individuality of Harry Winston jewelry: “Harry Winston, for example, ‘transformed diamonds into art and revolutionized modern jewelry’ – or so says HarryWinston.com. It’s true though: the diamonds take center stage in an artistic tour de force. These pieces are differentiated by their utterly minimal settings (metal rarely shows) and sparing use of color. The diamonds are crisp, clear, and arranged to create magical shapes. If you know your jewelry, you can look at a red carpet and say, ‘That’s a Harry Winston.’ This is, perhaps, an extreme example! But the same applies: use your personal touch to make your jewelry come alive. Utilize this element, this aesthetic, or this design philosophy throughout your line.”
Save costs — at least initially— on hiring an expensive logo artist or brand specialist to learn what you want your brand to represent. Learn about your target market, find out what they want in a piece of jewelry, and see how you can make that happen.
Just Get Started
“I started out selling at a local yoga center (60/40 split) and have done a couple of craft fairs.” This was Judy’s answer to Jasmine’s initial question, a commenter and fellow jewelry maker. Did it directly answer her woes? Perhaps not. But there’s still a lesson in here: think creatively, try new things, and just begin. Start with forming your business, with a business formation partner like doola. Spider necklace aficionados will thank you.
How much does it cost to start up a jewelry business?
For an e-commerce jewelry business, you can start with as little as a few hundred dollars to create a simple collection and list for a few cents on Etsy.
What are the legal requirements for the jewelry business?
How much money do you need to own a jewelry store?
Research the price of space rental in your dream spot and the cost of purchasing an inventory that will fill it, both of which could cost thousands of dollars to start.
Is it hard to start a jewelry business?
Getting started is always the hardest part, but if you’re passionate enough about it and research your target audience, how to market your business, and scaling practices, then your hard work will pay off.